Instructions for a Leaner IT Team

By Bernhard Mehl
November 26, 2019

Lean teams allow for positive change in the workplace through effective decision making and improved response times to issues that might arise. IT departments in particular can benefit from a lean team. 

IT teams can have a wide range of functionality and focus. However, an IT department with too many or too few people on the team can waste company resources and time or slow office operations down drastically. 


Ideal Setup for a Lean IT Department

Creating a lean team starts with clearly identifying goals and the roles and responsibilities of each team member. The It lead or manager should be in charge of facilitating communication within the team as well as to other departments. This leader acts as support for  other IT associates as well as ensuring the wants and needs of the company as a whole are met in terms of IT operations.  It’s common to have an IT department composed of a few different teams. Operations teams focus on technology infrastructure (networks, data centers), both operating and monitoring, to ensure services and systems are available to support all business operations. Support teams are considered the small operations teams that complete day-to-day projects. Project teams are created to solve something specific or to make a change and are then disbanded upon project completion. Finally, process teams are tasked with managing and improving IT systems with a certain business process in mind. 

IT departments naturally  expand as businesses adopt more technologies to automate processes. Generally there are multiple IT teams, all of which have clear responsibilities and varying authority to implement certain technologies. Rather than having multiple people on each of these organizational teams to make up a fairly large IT organization, lean IT team structure is about finding one or two people with the right combination of skills to comfortably handle all IT-related concerns. 

Simplicity and transparency are both important when establishing a small team, requiring IT teams to have a solid foundation in terms of communication, knowledge and organized project management. The team’s efficiency is significantly reduced when the foundation concepts of the team and company are unclear. IT requirements should always prioritized  whether the team is newly formed, moving to a new office, or rethinking strategy. IT teams must often juggle uncertainty with urgency, so it’s important that everyone on the team knows how to prioritize based on both importance and ease. 


How to Keep Headcount Low 

Even though IT roles and responsibilities vary by assignment, the primary purpose of an IT team is to aid a business in technology management so that the business can run efficiently. IT teams consisting of a small group of people means quicker, and more productive communication. Small teams also make it easier to make sure everyone is following the same procedures and manage workflows. For example, if everyone on the IT team uses the same naming convention, then collaborating, communicating, and debugging programs will be painless. 

Think cross- functionality. Some IT personnel might only be knowledgeable about one side of the IT department. It’s important to familiarize each member in the lean IT team structure with every aspect because chances are, they will need to help out in other areas outside of their specialty. Various job roles include project managers, business and IT analysts, IT engineers, data scientists, and solution architects. Each of these positions play a part to achieve maximum impact for the business in terms of operations, security, and communication

Training and onboarding everyone so that all employees are up to date is also important in terms of quality. If the IT team is small, the business needs to ensure that one team member leaving won’t be too detrimental to how the department functions. Training doesn’t have to occur only in the office. Trade shows and expos are one way to expose employees to new and valuable technical information. Typically speakers at smaller shows give the most useful information. Other more traditional training practices include courses with instructors, on-the-job training, and videos found online for more in-depth discussion of a training topic. 


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Automation 

An essential role of an IT team is to automate processes. Using technology, IT can integrate system workflows with employee activity, building operations like security access and monitoring systems, and even various reception tasks. 

Efficiency 

With a lean IT team structure, businesses can save on employee costs while investing more in a few key technicians and associates who have the skills to cover all the necessary bases. A lean IT department has a greater opportunity for career development and attaining greater responsibility within the company.  

Maximizing efficiency starts at the hiring process. Business managers need to understand the skills IT workers must have in order to hire the right people for the job. The idea and goal of a smarter workplace should always be kept in mind. Besides specific technical tasks, IT workers need to be able to think abstractly and solve any issues with confidence. 


Bernhard Mehl

Bernhard is the co-founder and CEO of Kisi. His philosophy, "security is awesome," is contagious among tech-enabled companies.

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